New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

Happy New Year everyone! I wish you a healthy and content 2017. I don’t make new resolutions, these days – not in terms of giving up chocolate or promising to be in the gym every morning by seven. However I have lived through many years of making resolutions about my writing. Here are the top five I consider to be useful and realistic – and I’m sure some of you have tried and tested effective ones, and it would be great if you shared them here!

New year res for writers

Firstly – be true to yourself. Don’t try to mimic other writers because you will never be a better version of them – just as no one can be a better version of yourself. Love Lucy Diamond? Great – read her books and try to analyse how she pulls readers into her stories and makes her lead characters so likeable. But don’t aim to reproduce her style. You have your own voice which – in my experience – will eventually emerge. It may be a long journey to find it, driven by writing manuscript after manuscript, but when you finally have that lightbulb moment and feel the words in your head are translating to the page exactly as they should, it’s a precious thing that – ultimately – will make you stand out as different, on the slushpile.

Secondly – learn to appreciate constructive criticism. This one can be hard! If you are an aspiring writer and someone more experienced has given you negative feedback, try to step away from your personal hurt and clinically look at the comments. And the same applies to a published author who has just received a bad review. If it is personal and insulting then it doesn’t deserve your attention – but if it’s polite and makes potentially fair comments, then consider analysing the negatives and maybe take them on board. I’ve found some unfavourable reviews quite useful in the past as they have given me an insight into where I  might be going wrong, in terms of creating relatable characters and plots that keep readers wanting to read on, right to the end. And if the negative feedback is from your editor, during revisions, just remember – she/he believes in you and is simply investing their time in trying to make your book even better than they already believe it is.

Thirdly – Read, read and read more. I failed dismally at this is 2016. But some of the books I did find time to enjoy really helped me to be more adventurous with my own writing. It is easy to get stuck in a rut with your own style if you don’t get a taste of how other authors are pushing boundaries and hitting the pleasure-spot for readers. I try not to let my writing style stagnate.

Fourthly – don’t forget why you started writing. Presumably – like me – it was due to a love of words and crafting sentences together. If it was for fame and fortune (*hollow laugh*!) you won’t survive the path it takes to get published. But if writing is a dream that comes from the heart, then when you get rejected or published and have to deal with deadlines, promotional work, bad reviews etc, just remind yourself that you are doing what you love and leaving behind a legacy of your creativity.

Finally, aspiring authors – don’t do what I did in the early days, and make the resolution “to get published this year”. It doesn’t quite work like that! Instead resolve to achieve something more attainable like “this  year I will submit my work to twenty agents” or  “this year I will see if I can get one full manuscript request”. Don’t set yourself too high expectations as you will feel you’ve failed, even if, in the bigger picture, you haven’t. Savour small victories, like a positive rejection letter. The road to publication takes many small steps, not one giant leap.

Best of luck and above all else, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. It’s a crazy business, this publishing malarkey, and dealing with it can be a challenge for us sensitive writing souls.

Blogger Daniel Riding Dishes the Dirt!

daniel glasses

Today I am thrilled to welcome blogger, writer and artist Daniel Riding to my blog. We first “met” online in the summer, when he did an amazing video review of my bestselling summer book, Game of Scones. I am nervously awaiting his verdict on the book’s standalone sequel, My Big Fat Christmas Wedding (Preorder only £1.99 and out this Thursday 🙂 ) In fact, one of the questions I ask Daniel is how he copes with reviewing a book he doesn’t like, if he is friends with the author… More on that later!

Hello Daniel, lovely to have you here. Thanks for dropping by!

Hi Sam, thank you so much for having me. This is my first ever interview and I am so excited.

What an honour for me, then! Well, let’s crack on… What made you become a book reviewing blogger and how did that progress to helping authors promote their books?

Well I have always had a love of books, reading and writing and have read copious amounts of books over many years. Just over a year ago I had a rather nasty relapse with my depression and that let to 12 months of illness, medication and more DRs Visits than I care to remember. Reading has always been a form of escapism and with a battle against depression on my hands I found that throwing myself into reading was a wonderful version of self-therapy for me. Everything stopped when I got ill, my job, I had to leave university and having no purpose is something that I don’t cope with very well. So that is when I decided to take up book blogging. I thought about how much I read and thought I could do something with it. I wasn’t able to focus on my own writing so I thought I could at least help others that I admire and respect. And so the blog was born.

How do you find most writers to work with? Professional and driven or a bit scatty? Any particularly good or bad experiences you wish to share with us?!

Most writers are an absolute pleasure to work with, as are many Publishers and editors. It is very rare that I have encountered anything negative but there are a couple of things that irritate me a little bit. Sometimes I feel that some (not all) publishers tend to pester a little too much, bloggers do what they do because they love it and don’t get any form of payment (not that we look for that) apart from amazing books. I sometimes think people need a little reminder of that.

I did have one experience with an author that I wasn’t too happy about. I won’t name names because I believe that to be unprofessional but I will say what happened. As you know Sam, I love to interview authors because it gives my readers (and myself) a look into the way a writer works and I love to find out about their journey to publication. I feel it can inspire author writers to keep going and to pursue their dreams. Well this one author I was set to interview emailed back once I had sent over the questions saying that the questions were boring and that I was only allowed to ask four questions. I was also told how they were sick of answering the same questions and emailed me a link to an article where they had been previously interviewed. I obviously politely declined because I find it so disrespectful to tell a blogger there questions are boring. I don’t care who you are, or who you think you are there is no reason to act as if you are above anyone.

Other than that one experience I have found the majority of the bookish community to be wonderfully supportive of each other and I am very grateful to be a part of it.

What an unfortunate experience – it is such a shame that some people forget bloggers do what they do without financial gain and regardless of that, manners matter.

So, is there any type of author or genre that you would have no interest in helping to promote? Do you turn down many requests?

I am always more than happy to help promote any author if I have the time and space on my blog. I am a firm believer in helping authors because we are all essentially in the same boat. Creative people looking to be successful. I don’t think there are any genres of books that I wouldn’t say no to but I do give everything careful consideration. I have my two favourite genres which are Romantic fiction and YA fantasy, I could eat this kind of books and gorge myself on their amazingness.

Can it be awkward if you get on well with an author, agree to review a book and then not like it? How do you handle that?

Not at all, I find that of I get on well with an author then it should be easier to be honest about what you think because if you are on friendly terms you respect the writer as a human being and not just a writer. If there are certain aspects of the book that I don’t like then I will say bit in an honest and constructive way. If I can’t get into a book then I simply won’t review it. If I love a book, then I think it is clear because I gush about it in my reviews.

I know that you write, Daniel – did that interest come from becoming more involved in the writing community, or has the compulsion always been there?

Oh it has always been there since I can remember, but being part of the bookish and writing community has only fuelled it more. I can remember when I was about 7 or 8, I wrote a story on my dad’s electric typewriter about a mouse who hated cheese but loved spaghetti bolognaise. I’m hoping my ideas are a little more evolved nowadays. I have always written over the years, poems, short stories. I was even the Co-Editor of a men’s fashion website for a while writing numerous articles about style. But my love will always be with books and that is what I want my career to be in.

Tell us a little about your writing.

Well I love to write, and recently the ideas have been bussing about in my brain all screaming for attention. The main book I am working on at the moment is a romantic fiction book about a girl who is an aspiring writer, but there are a number of issues along the way. I am also playing around with a 6 book YA fantasy series that is about witches, fae and royalty. I am also playing around with writing m/m same sex romantic erotica under a pseudonym, again this will be adult romantic fiction with fantasy creatures. So when I say there are lots of ideas, there really are.

And from your experience of getting to know writers, how to you view the writing life? You’ll be very aware of the amount of promotion necessary these days – does that put you off becoming an author, or do you think you would enjoy it?

You writers are indeed a busy bunch and I cannot wait to join you all. I get how much hard work goes into writing as well as constant promotion. I love social media and interacting with people, so I really think I would enjoy it. I already have a sample pack of items from a printer so I have ideas for how to promote my books when I get published. It is going to happen, I won’t let it be any other way.

Good for you. I truly believe perseverance is equally important as talent. So what do you think of digital books? Do you like them and do you believe they are a passing fad or here to stay?

I love books in any form but I do prefer physical copies of books because I am little bit old school like that. But at the same time, I do love my Kindle and the immediacy of it all, plus A Kindle or e-reader is easier to carry if you are going on holiday or a long journey. I do believe physical books and digital book have equal rights in terms of shelf space and readership. There does seem to be an ongoing debate about digital vs physical books but I love them both. Having so many wonderful options that allows people access to so many wonderful books can only be a good thing. I think digital books are here to stay and hope they do, just the same way I feel about physical books.

daniel bag

 

Have you any other artistic talents?

Apart from the writing, I am known to dabble in many creative pools. I love to paint, draw and illustrate etc. I also love creating art digitally on Photoshop etc. At the moment I have a number of items available on my online shop which is via a website called society 6. I don’t make an awful lot of money from it but that is not the reason I am doing it. It’s exciting to see my work printed on household items such as bags, (see above!)  cushions, rugs and even leggings/yoga pants etc and actually have people want them in their homes. I am adding stuff to it all the time. I can’t help but be creative. If you like you can check it out here: https://society6.com/danielriding

Thanks so much for visiting today, Daniel. It’s been really interesting to hear about all your projects. Best of luck with them – and see you soon on Twitter! xx

Thank you so much for having me Sam, looking forward to chatting to you soon xx